News & Politics

John Podhoretz: The 'Murder' of 'The Weekly Standard' Wasn't About Trump

Bill Kristol attends Politicon at The Pasadena Convention Center on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Invision/AP)

R.I.P. Weekly Standard. On Friday, staff at the conservative magazine were told to clear out their desks by 5 p.m. Many fans of President Donald Trump hailed the Standard‘s shuttering as evidence of Trump’s victory over the #NeverTrump holdouts, but the magazine’s co-founder, John Podhoretz, insisted that is the wrong lesson to learn.

“One key thing: It actually wasn’t about Trump, or only about Trump on the margins. This was far more in the nature of a weird personal vendetta,” Podhoretz tweeted.

The co-founder and former contributing editor noted that “there are non-disparagement clauses in the severance packages being given to the staffers at the Weekly Standard.” He however, was not a “staffer,” so: “There will be much disparagement in this space and elsewhere, and factual disparagement as well.”

To that end, Podhoretz wrote an op-ed in Commentary documenting “The Murder of the Weekly Standard.”

Although the Weekly Standard‘s other co-founder, Bill Kristol, has gone off the deep end in his opposition to Trump, Podhoretz insisted that the #NeverTrump reputation his magazine earned in recent years did not cause its demise. In fact, he might have preferred that.

“There would at least be a larger meaning to the Standard’s end if it were being killed because it was hostile to Donald Trump. But I do not believe that is the case,” Podhoretz wrote. “Rather, I believe the fissures in the conservative movement and the Republican party that have opened up since Trump’s rise provided the company man with a convenient argument to make to the corporation’s owner, Philip Anschutz, that the company could perhaps harvest the Standard’s subscriber-base riches and then be done with it.”

The co-founder derided this as an “entirely hostile act,” alleging that “business side rep” Ryan McKibben convinced Anschutz to refuse “to sell the Standard because they want to claim its circulation for another property of theirs.”

Weekly Standard subscriptions will now be fulfilled by the forthcoming Washington Examiner magazine, CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported.

“This is without precedent in my experience in publishing, and I’ve been a family observer of and active participant in the magazine business for half a century,” Podhoretz wrote.

He declared that “the creation of the Weekly Standard was my proudest professional moment.” The co-founder called the Weekly Standard “the last important print magazine created in America before the Internet began its search-and-destroy mission against those things published on the pulp products of dead trees.”

From the beginning, the purpose was not just to support Republicans but to “help guide and keep honest the hard-carging Republican party that had scored its stunning lopsided victory over Bill Clinton’s Democrats.” He noted that the magazine was “criticized for not being part of the team from the get-go.”

Podhoretz admitted that, like similar magazines, the Weekly Standard never made money, “but its circulation has always been extraordinarily healthy in opinion-journal terms.”

“If Anschutz had been motivated by an unwillingness to bear the cost any longer, he could have sold the Standard. He chose not to. He chose to kill it,” Podhoretz wrote. For this reason, “the cessation of the Standard is an intellectual and political crime.”

He urged Weekly Standard subscribers, “tens of thousands of whom have been with the magazine since its very first day,” to “demand refunds rather than swerve as passive participants in this act of politico-cultural murder.” Commentary will offer a good deal for former Weekly Standard subscribers.

On Twitter, Podhoretz retweeted conservative columnist Erick Erickson to drive home the point that the Weekly Standard‘s demise is not a cause for Trump supporters to celebrate.

“If you can look at MediaDC starting a new publication that is helmed by a lot of excellent people who have been as skeptical of Trump and as vocal about it as the Weekly Standard crew and then conclude the Standard was shuttered for being anti-Trump, you’re not a smart person,” Erickson tweeted.

https://twitter.com/EWErickson/status/1073623324197089280

The truth is often a lot more complicated than the neat political narrative.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.